As a new season begins, we are reminded of the constancy of change. How can we manage change in an organization, including the emotions involved, in a way that is structured, monitorable and effective? This post is by Founder of Intelligent Management Inc. Dr. Domenico Lepore.
The Thinking Processes from the Theory of Constraints (TOC) first appeared in the novel It’s Not Luck (1994), although a preliminary sketch of the Conflict Cloud had been published in the essay “What is this thing called TOC” that Dr. Goldratt wrote in 1991. Since then dozens of books and publications have become available, each of which claiming to provide further insight into the way the Thinking Processes should be used. Oded Cohen and myself dedicated nearly 40 pages of our book Deming and Goldratt: the Decalogue (1999) to that end. Indeed, the Thinking Processes are foundational for a successful adoption of our ten step process called “The Decalogue”.
The Thinking Processes were devised to sustain and focus the change process underpinned by the process of ongoing improvement advocated by TOC. Dr. Goldratt identified three major phases of change that might seem obvious but that can be easily overlooked:
- What to change
- What to change to
- How to make the change happen
Each phase is supported and facilitated by a purposefully designed Thinking Process. When used together, we have seen over the years how the Thinking Processes provide a very comprehensive and powerful mechanism that can ensure effective supervision and guidance over the change process. The Thinking Processes also represent an ideal companion to the development of a project plan.
Change is non-linear
The Thinking Processes help people visualize (through precise verbalization) the complex, highly nonlinear network of cause-effect relationships that mark reality, as we perceive it. This network maps the “conversations” that make up our cognitive horizon. With “conversations” we mean the aggregate of some of the most relevant categories of speech we use and that define the semantic boundary of our universe. Language creates reality. The more we become aware of this, the freer we become to choose the reality we create.
Within the framework of our Decalogue method for systemic management, the Thinking Processes play a very critical role; they enhance and fortify the faculties of the intellect that are responsible for conceiving new ideas (intuition), developing those ideas fully through analysis (understanding) and deploying operationally all the actions needed to implement the fully analyzed idea (knowledge). The Thinking Processes link these faculties of intuition, understanding and knowledge, hence enabling a higher level of control over the interdependencies among these faculties; they act as controller over the variation associated with our thought processes. Moreover, the Thinking Processes help to harness the powerful forces represented by the emotions involved in the change process.
Change and emotion
Emotional attributes play a role in the change process that is just as important as the purely intellect-driven one. The reason can be easily understood. If we seek to activate in an organization a process of continuous improvement we must trigger in people the desire to continuously learn. Such a desire cannot be sustained over time purely by the rational realization that “to live is to learn”. It just does not work that way.
Moreover, learning can be very destabilizing on an emotional level because it continuously pushes forward the boundary of our cognition and, with it, the gap between what we know and what we feel we can do with what we know.
In order to leverage in a positive way the tension originated by this gap we must get a handle on our emotions, understand them and refine them; in other words, we must transform their potentially destructive power into a positive force that sustains change.
This is precisely the role of the Thinking Processes: to help us manage the blend of intellect and emotion in the change process. In this way, “change” loses the somewhat ill-defined feature of a corporate exercise and becomes that transformational effort which is at the very heart of the success of every individual and organization alike.
Intelligent Management has been guiding organizations to adopt a systemic approach to manage complexity and radically improve performance and growth for over 20 years through our Decalogue management methodology. The Network of Projects organization design we developed is supported by our Ess3ntial software for multi-project finite scheduling based on the Critical Chain algorithm.
See our latest books Moving the Chains: An Operational Solution for Embracing Complexity in the Digital Age by our Founder Dr. Domenico Lepore, The Human Constraint – a digital business novel that has sold in 42 countries so far by Dr. Angela Montgomery and ‘Quality, Involvement, Flow: The Systemic Organization’ from CRC Press, New York by Dr. Domenico Lepore, Dr. .Angela Montgomery and Dr. Giovanni Siepe